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College in High School for all

Our CIHS partnership allows us to offer college credit to all students.

By partnering with the Community College of Allegheny County, we offer students college credit for all core academic courses and many electives. Students can easily complete a General Education Certificate or even a full Associate's Degree... just by taking classes at the High School. This has huge implications for our students, many of whom would be first generation college students.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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March 2019

About the innovation

Ensuring that all students are college and career ready!

The faculties of Northgate High School and the Community College of Allegheny County established a partnership that aligned core academic and elective courses across the two institutions.  Additionally, the School Board has revamped our District's graduation requirements to better prepare all students for success after high school.  Whether a student chooses to enroll in college, enter a career, or join the military, we want to make sure that all of our students are exposed to rigorous courses that stretch them academically.

Currently, all of our high school students in grades 10, 11, and 12 are enrolled in courses for which they could earn college credit.  This is very exciting for us, as many of our students will be first generation college attendees.  Not only will earning college credit in high school give them the advantage of advanced standing, but it will also give them the confidence needed to succeed.


College in High School Press Release
The Community College of Allegheny County and the Northgate School District are partnering to offer high school students an opportunity to earn a 30-credit General Education Certificate through the College in High School (CIHS) program, with classes taught onsite at Northgate High School. For an additional cost, students will have the chance to earn a 60-credit associate degree should they wish to pursue more advanced courses. Beginning with the class of 2021, interested Northgate High School students will take placement exams during the summer between their freshman and sophomore years, ensuring they are prepared for the rigorous expectations of college-level work. Students needing additional support may register for developmental coursework over the summer, re-test at the beginning of their sophomore year and, given satisfactory placement test scores, enroll in CIHS program courses. Students who are enrolled in the CIHS program and taking classes toward the CCAC General Education Certificate will pay just $110 per community college course (the cost of one credit) regardless of the number of credits associated with the course. Students will also pay a one-time $25 matriculation fee. Costs cover all registration fees, as well as access to CCAC's technology and academic support resources. "This remarkable opportunity has been made possible through the collaborative work of faculty at both Northgate High School and CCAC North Campus," said Dr. Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki, president, North Campus and West Hills Center. "We are very excited to offer CCAC programming to Northgate High School students, who will be able to save a considerable amount of money while getting a great head start on their college careers." During the 2017-2018 academic year, high school course syllabi were analyzed and re-worked to ensure that Northgate High School students would have the opportunity to engage in coursework that prepares them for college and career readiness. "We are incredibly excited about this opportunity for our community, as it is important to us that all of our students have multiple academic and career pathways to choose from when they graduate. This unprecedented relationship with CCAC will afford students the opportunity to realize their potential for post-secondary success in whatever they do," said Dr. Caroline Johns, superintendent of schools, Northgate School District. Obtaining a General Education Certificate, or even an associate degree, remains possible for the Classes of 2020 and 2019, with additional non-CIHS coursework completed on campus at one of several CCAC locations. Credits awarded by CCAC are fully transferable, which could easily save students nearly $60,000 in tuition and room and board costs over the cost of private colleges and universities. The Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center, for example, has identified 10 associate degrees that are almost wholly transferable. As such, a Northgate High School student could enter postsecondary study as a junior at one of the 33 colleges or universities participating in the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center's consortium of schools.

Implementation steps

Leadership Establishes a Vision

In the summer of 2017, a leadership team comprised of administrators from the Community College of Allegheny County and Northgate School District met to discuss partnership opportunities. After a series of meetings, they decided to work with faculty colleagues to design and implement a truly revolutionary College in High School Program.

The next few months were mapped out, and strategic stakeholders were identified who could help breathe life into this vision.

Faculty Scrutinize Learning Outcomes

Throughout the fall and into the winter of 2017, faculty from both the Community College of Allegheny County and Northgate School District met several times to discuss what and how students were learning in each of the courses that eventually became aligned across the two organizations.  They recognized, for example, that an "Introductory Biology" course mapped perfectly onto the Biology course that was offered to sophomores at Northgate High School, while "General Biology 1" and "General Biology 2" reflected the higher level learning experience by students in Advanced Placement Biology.

Having faculty, who are treated as content area experts, iron out and discuss the details of their courses was an essential step.  Following each meeting, the groups' activities were logged and maintained for record keeping purposes.

Run a Pilot

During the spring semester of 2017-2018 academic year, we used Advanced Placement level History and English courses as pilot groups.  We needed to run through all of the administrative processes associated with admissions, enrollment, and scheduling, before we tried to engage the entire High School student body in the process.

Thank goodness we tested our wings before taking off.  Running those pilot course sections allowed us to encounter and manage unanticipated points of friction.  We were able to respond to these in a collaborative manner and gear up for full-scale implementation during the 2018-2019 academic year!

Full-Scale Implementation

Throughout the spring and summer of 2018, information was shared with parents at community events, shared with students in conversations with academic and guidance faculty, and shared with the region via press releases.

The fall of 2018 arrived, and we were finally ready to implement the College in High School Program in its entirety.  This academic year required other hurdles to be surmounted that we didn't even anticipate following the previous year's pilot program.  These hurdles, though, have paled in comparison to the successes attained by our students.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, all students in grades 10, 11, and 12 are taking at least one College in High School course, and dozens of them have officially enrolled as CCAC students are taking advantage of the available credits.

We no longer offer courses titled "honors" or "academic."  Rather, we've replaced those titles with "College in High School" labels for courses that are aligned to CCAC equivalents.  This has resulted in an especially exciting outcome- We have eliminated the racial enrollment gap in courses that used to be considered "honors" level courses.

We recognize that this first year will be the beginning of a long and rewarding journey, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for our students!

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